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Friday, December 9, 2011

Long Time Gone

I'm writing this on Thursday, December 8. Thirty one years ago today I was living in Arkansas, and at that time had a dog named Zack. Zack was a cutie: small, black, a Pekinese/cocker spaniel mix. He was also outrageously stupid and was impossible to house train. 

Thirty one years ago today, I recall being in bed when the telephone rang. Now I was never exactly bohemian, but in 1980 I'd only been out of college a couple of years and my living conditions were a bit loose. That is to say, my mattress was on the floor, as was my telephone. I remember answering the phone that night and hearing a college friend on the other end of the line sobbing. I knew something was wrong. I was distracted, though, by the fact that my ear and the left side of my face were wet. After what seemed like a long time of puzzling I finally put it all together, and that's how I found out John Lennon had been killed. There in bed, with dog urine all over my face. 

The Beatles, as many of us remember, were something quite special. Before The Beatles, American kids cruised around in cars and had drag races. After The Beatles American kids took to the streets in protest. John, Paul, George, and Ringo changed our hair, our clothes, and the way we listened to music. Songs were no longer toe-tapping dance tunes. After The Beatles, we pressed our ears to radio speakers and listened for messages, trying to decipher what (if anything) the boys from Britain were trying to tell us. The four moptops weren't just a band. They represented a turning point in history, and whether or not they actually kicked off the change didn't matter. For better or worse, The Beatles changed our lives forever, and nothing after The Beatles would ever be quite the same.

Then, on a chilly day in early December thirty one years ago, somebody shot  John Lennon outside his apartment building in New York City. I couldn't make sense of such a heinous act then, and in 2011 I still can't. All I know is that on December 8, 1980, the world became a little bit darker. Just as The Beatles were a turning point for so many of us back in the 1960s and '70s, Mark David Chapman's act of selfish violence signaled another turning point. John Lennon was dead and life would go on, but somehow...nothing would ever be quite the same.   

It's hard to believe John has been gone so long, and for my part, I hope Mr. Chapman has not enjoyed his time in captivity. What he stole from us these long years can never be recovered: the gifts one of music's most prolific and profound songwriters might have given us in the three decades since his voice was silenced for good -- and for no reason -- on a dark street in New York.  


Another reporter said...

From Zack's diary, Nov. 12, 1980: "She was impossible to train, impossible to wake up, incredibly stupid. I have peed everywhere I can think of to try to get through to her. One of these days I am just going to pee right on her face."

Kathleen Yasas said...

Zack, while adorable, was far too stupid (unlike his owner) to have a diary. He piddled at will, had a pronounced underbite, and ran through the house with half a L'Eggs "egg" in his mouth, making him appear to have a silver bullet nose. Cute dog, big problem. But thanks to my baby Zacky, I will never forget where I was in 1980, on December 8.

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Newspaper columnist; blogger; author of Delta Dead; author of 101 Tip$ From My Depression-Era Parents; author of Australian Fly; editor: ...And I Breathed (author, Jason Garner, former CEO of Global Music at Live Nation), "A History of the Lawrence S. Donaldson Residence"; "The Port Washington Yacht Club: A Centennial Perspective"; "The Northeastern Society of Periodontists: The First Fifty Years"; editor: NESP Bulletin; editor: PWYC Mainsail; past editorial director: The International Journal of Fertility & Women's Medicine; past editor of: Long Island Power & Sail, Respiratory Review; Medical Travelers' Advisory; School Nurse News; Clear Images; Periodontal Clinical Investigations; Community Nurse Forum